Well, this time, I have the pleasure of bringing Mary to MTL, and she’s here to answer all sorts of questions on the role of health, nutrition, and exercise. Mary is a friend I met at the Influence Conference back in October, and one of the many things we connected over is a passion for healthy eating and exercise. Mary blogs about healthy hearts, both spiritually and physically. She is one wise gal and has so kindly taken the time to share some of her expertise with you today. Welcome, Mary!
1. Tell us a little bit about your background, training, and current job.
I am a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist. I have been an RD for three years working as a Clinical Dietitian in both hospitals and long term care facilities. I have experience in food service and management as well. I completed a 4 year undergraduate degree in Foods, Nutrition, and Dietetics, went on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition and completed a 9 month Dietetic Internship. My internship was well rounded in Dietetics and included areas in: health departments, schools, community, hospitals, long term care, food service, diabetes, and renal. Currently I work as the RD at a Long Term Care facility in VA. My interests have evolved past just clinical nutrition. I personally eat and live a holistic lifestyle and promote a whole foods/paleo approach to nutrition and health. This holistic approach focuses on eating for nourishment and eliminating toxic foods, medications, and chemicals.
2. Explain your philosophy on food and diet, and how it affects your overall health.
Let thy food be thy medicine. That is my overall philosophy. You cannot achieve health without a nourishing diet. My food philosophy is based around these three ideas: 1) Eat whole foods, 2) Eliminate processed, man-made foods, and 3) Follow a Paleo pattern. When we eliminate processed, man-made foods we eliminate added sugars, unhealthy fats, everything artificial, and antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones. Whole foods are real foods that promote health. They come with the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the body needs to be nourished. The body does not recognize unknown “food substances” in the modern diet and that in turn wrecks havoc on the body. The body functions as it should when given a whole foods diet.
3. What brought you to embrace these beliefs and practices in your own life?
My journey into these beliefs and practices was a slow moving journey. Through my education and internship I did not hold these beliefs. It was only until after I began working in the healthcare field that I began to understand how much disease truly is in our country. I sought God over the questions I began asking over the condition of our modern diet. I got into nutrition because I believed that a good diet and healthy lifestyle would surely lead to health. The Bible even points us to that. So I knew what was currently being recommended was not working for people. Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Obesity were only on the rise. Surely something in our diets correlated with this. That is what led me into Paleo and embracing a holistic/whole foods mindset. Both of these mindsets are fully about prevention of disease and promoting health.
4. I’m thinking of trying the Paleo diet. Can you tell me a little more about it? And how would you recommend I start… should I ease into it, or jump in with both feet?
The Paleo Diet is based on years of research looking at ancestral health. It is believed that the modern day diseases that we are faced with are related to the agricultural movement that came about many years later. Our ancestors ate very differently than we do now. For 95% of our evolutionary history, our ancestors ate whole foods that they hunted or gathered: animals, seafood, plants. Paleo is an approach. It is not a one-size fits all. Some “Paleo” folks eat dairy, but raw dairy. Some go low- carb. Some eat baked potatoes and rice. It’s about making a program that works best for the individual and his or her specific needs and goals. The core blueprint remains the same: 1) Eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods, 2) Avoid foods that are toxic and pro-inflammatory such as gluten-containing grains, legumes, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and refined vegetables oils and seeds oils.
My advice on how to start would be to know yourself. If you think you will succeed better by doing a 30-day Paleo challenge like Robb Wolf’s Challenge http://robbwolf.com/30-day-total-transformation/ then do it! If you want to slowly begin to change certain ways of eating into the Paleo approach then do that. This is your life and you are in charge of it, so I would choose what best suits you and do your best at making the changes. If you do not try, you will not know how great you will feel!
5. How many meals a day should I eat?
This is a hard question because it depends highly on the individual. When on a whole foods/paleo diet it is much easier to listen to your body’s hunger and satiety signals. Blood sugar is also regulated so eating every 4-6 hours or 3 meals a day is not always needed or even helpful. It’s important to listen to your body. Eating Paleo will bring about much better satiety without crashes. A bigger contributor to your health is what you choose to eat not when or how often you choose to eat it.
6. Is there a most important meal of the day?
No, but breakfast is important in my opinion to get the day started on the right track. This is especially true if you are overweight and trying to lose weight. Your body is not sending you the right signals so a wholesome breakfast is needed to start the day right. However if you are generally very healthy it’s OK to skip breakfast if you are not hungry and to eat when you are. It’s a whole new mindset. It’s listening to our bodies as mentioned above.
7. I’m trying to lose weight…what is the healthiest way to do that?
Eat Paleo. This is a diet/lifestyle plan based on sound science. Its foundation is rock solid. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Exercise through strength training, HITT, and natural movement. Natural movement includes a brisk walk, yoga, outdoor hike, etc. Ditch the idea of chronic cardio. It only does damage to your body. On top of diet and exercise if you really want to lose weight you must sleep. Sleep 7-8 hours every night. Eliminate stress as well and you have a sure win! Just be consistent.
8. How important is it that I exercise in addition to keeping a healthy diet?
It is very important to exercise as well as keep a healthy diet. Exercise helps with hormone management, and hormone management is what keeps the cells in your body working properly. When these work your body stays healthy. Exercise regulates many hormones that affect appetite, weight control, metabolism, insulin sensitivity, stress management, sleep, and mood. ALL of that keeps one healthy.
9. What advice do you have for breaking bad eating habits?
This advice comes from my own personal struggles with bad eating habits. You have to come to a point where you realize that what you are and have been doing is NOT working. Do you feel bad? Do you have low energy? Do you have disease? Do you have skin problems? Do you have digestive issues? Is eating poorly worth these things? Once I ditched (and I mean threw out the garbage in our pantry) man-made modern foods and replaced them with nutrient density, whole foods did I find that I craved the “junk” less and less. The body no longer wants it like it used to because it is being fed what it truly needs and wants. You truly are what you eat. Just like you began eating “junk” foods and it became a habit, you have to start eating whole foods for it to become a habit. Overtime the whole foods will crowd out the “junk.”
10. What have you found motivates you to stay consistent and stick with your healthy meal plans?
My motivation comes from several different things. I am a Christian and desire to honor God with my life. I believe that He has given me one life to live and He wants me to live it fully and wholly. This includes what I choose to put into my body and how I live my lifestyle. I am also motivated from the standpoint of being a Dietitian and wanting to lead others by my example. If people see this ordinary girl doing it I hope that they can understand that they can too. I also am motivated to find health and remain healthy because I have seen what these modern day diseases can do and how they can destroy a person’s quality of life. What accompanies them is pain. I want to do my part in preventing them as much as possible. I also desire to be a mother one day, and I know that how I nourish my body now is how my baby will one day be nourished. That’s a huge responsibility, and I want to prepare my body now for if that day comes in the future.
To read more of Mary’s thoughts on nutrition and exercise, find her here: